By Joel Lindstrom
The Caledonia Legion Baseball team opened its season Wednesday, June 4, splitting a non-conference double-header with the La Crescent Junior Legion team. Playing in Caledonia, La Crescent took the first game 2-0, with Caledonia responding with a 3-1 victory.
On the mound in the first game for Caledonia was southpaw Drew Elvik. Drew had pitched in a limited role for the Caledonia Varsity team this spring, and was tapped by coach Brian Langen with the expectation that he could help fill the shoes of pitchers lost to summer basketball.
Despite lively La Crescent bats throughout the game, Elvik kept the game close by staying in the strike zone and relying on his defense. He allowed a run in each of the first two innings, but got timely strike-outs and pop-ups to minimize damage. In the final two innings platooning catcher/first-baseman Harrison Speltz, who had not pitched in several years, came on to relieve Elvik. His fastball was dominant, as La Crescent batters went hitless the remainder of the game.
Unfortunately while Elvik and Speltz kept the game close, La Crescent’s pitcher kept the Caledonia bats silent. Caledonia managed only four hits, including a double and single by Speltz who continues his hot hitting from spring ball. Despite a late rally, Caledonia could not push a run across, and La Crescent won it 2-0.
Coach Langen had entered this matchup intending it as a get-your-feet-wet game for his players, and to discover how he might best integrate his new, young players into the lineup. But losing the first game got his competitive juices going, and he called on veteran Kai Lidstrom to start the second game.
Lidstrom was in good form, giving up only one run in a rocky second inning, after which he cruised with successive one-two-three innings. But it was not Kai’s arm that had the Caledonia players and fans exchanging high-fives; it was Joe Petit’s, who robbed La Crescent of critical rallying opportunities.
Already we had seen Joe in the first game make a diving catch of a squibbed popup down the first base line, then throwing a strike to double up a La Crescent base-runner. In the second game Petit erased two threats—he gunned down La Crescent’s leadoff batter after he was safely aboard after Lidstrom mishandled a “swinging bunt”, and in the third inning after a leadoff walk, Petit bolted down the first base line to back up an errant throw, and threw the base-runner out as he tried to return to first.
Highlighting Caledonia’s offense was the aggressive base-running of TJ Schultz. He led-off the third inning with a single, then stole second AND third, and loped home on a single by Joe Petit, securing a well-deserved 3-1 victory.